There is a large volume of advice articles on how to set up and write an effective blog. This post brings together the advice that influenced me in setting up my various personal blogs, The Other Sociologist and my Tumblr, as well as my blog on Sociology at Work. I want to focus on the little tips that may not seem immediately important, but from experience, I can guarantee you that they make it harder for your blog to be enjoyed and shared easily.
Tips for your business blog
Here’s some useful advice on how to avoid the traps of a poor business blog:
- Don’t use your blog as public dissemination for press releases and avoid solely focusing on your business. Keep your writing casual and write about other issues related to your industry, your day-to-day work life, and share your lessons learned
- Blog regularly and commit to a schedule. This means planning and scheduling posts in advance.
- Enable comments on your blog and respond to your readers. Similarly, comment on other blogs relevant to your industry as it will help social engagement.
- Make your blog easy to share. Link to your blog URL to your company blog (if you have two separate sites), and include your blog URL in your email signature, business cards and other marketing products. Enable RSS feeds as a way to increase subscribers. Optimise your blog content for search engines by including keywords in the post titles and in you post URL.
- See blogging as a long-term investment. You are unlikely to see much returns from blogging for the first few months. Keep blogging regularly and give it a year before you make a considered assessment about what benefits you’re seeing from your blog.
- Make your blog beautiful. Here’s where to find multimedia content for your business website.
Where to start
My favourite content management system is right here – on WordPress, the platform that hosts this very blog. It is elegant, with excellent features. It requires a little more set up. If you get the free hosting option from WordPress.com, you have limited functionalities. For example, you cannot install your own plugins, you can’t monetise your site, and you have limited options for customising the look and feel of your blog once you’ve picked a template. A self-hosted blog has greater features. You can control more of the look and feel, and add e-commerce options; however, you will need to get comfortable with some light coding, or hire a web developer.
If setting up a new blog seems daunting, try Tumblr. It is much easier to set up and run, and it is wildly popular.
As of today, there are 94.5 million blogs on Tumblr. Quantcast reports that 15.3 million people visit Tumblr each day. Most of them are from the United States (6.6 million) and they are aged 18-24 years with the second-biggest group being 25-34.
Sharing your blog on social media
New to social media and blogging? I’ve been using Buffer for a long while and it is fantastic. It allows you to
- Share to three social profiles on its free plan (to Twitter, Facebook and LinkedIn)
- Schedule your posts to help spread out your social media messages. You can choose your own times or allow it to set a time for you. It can be synched with SocialBro to optimise times when most of your audience is online, therefore improving exposure for your posts
- Track your analytics, to see how many retweets, mentions and favourites you receive on Twitter, and how many people clicked on your link. It has a nifty function which also highlights your Top Tweet – the tweet that received the greatest interaction.
The only downside is the limits of the free plan. Already quite generous, they allow you to only schedule 10 posts at a time on each network. This is useful for most people, but it’s tougher for someone like me who manages multiple accounts for different audiences.
They have $10 monthly plan gives you unlimited posts and 12 social profiles. Another limitation for is if you’re a Google+ enthusiast – Buffer doesn’t yet post to Google+. I would strongly recommend you try it out, it’s great and I love the ethos of the company.
When I was first starting out, I read the Buffer Blog with relish, especially Co-Founder Leo Widrich’s posts. The community they tend on Buffer is supportive and the co-founders encourage direct contact. Check out CEO Joel Gascoigne’s personal blog; it offers a good-natured but poignant insight on what it’s like to be a young entrepreneur.